(Christopher Moore Interview, continued)
As an author, you do what you can to help out the independents, but you can't ignore the shear gorilla numbers of a Barnes and Nobles or a Borders. The same thing goes for Amazon and other online booksellers.
I live in a rather remote area of California, so when I first discovered Amazon.com I was ecstatic, and I still buy a ton of books from them. I'm nearly forty miles from the nearest bookstore with any sort of selection, and for most so my research needs, they still have to order my books. So for me, as a reader, the web has been great. Likewise for my readers who can't find my books in their local stores. I was one of the first non-technical writers to include my e-mail address on a book jacket, and right from the beginning I got letters from people who couldn't find all of my books. With Amazon and the other web-sellers, I always know I can get a book into the hands of someone who wants to read it.
As for the publishing on demand: as a reader, I like the idea, as a writer, I'm not happy about it. Right now, if a book goes out of print, the author will get the rights back within six months and can sell them to someone who may be able to keep the book in print. With on-demand publishing, a book need never go out of print, but that also means that even if it's only selling one or two copies a year, the author can't get the rights back and place them in the hands of a publisher who can promote the book, re-release it, and perhaps make it even more successful in a second or third incarnation.
I know these issues are driving agents nuts right now. No one has really figured out good boilerplate contract language to protect their author's rights, so they have to reinvent the wheel with every deal. Contracts have to have language that anticipates technology that doesn't even exist yet.
As for e-books, as a reader and researcher I love them. I don't read fiction off of a screen. I don't like to, it bugs me, I can't get into the story. But for looking stuff up, I love e-text. You can do a word up subject search of the complete works of Shakespeare in about 30 seconds. That rocks! I've used the texts available at the Gutenberg Project a lot in my work. Looking for quotes or whatever. A one point I needed to look something up in Rabalaise's Gargantua and Pantagreul; I downloaded the text, searched it, found what I needed, and moved on, all in about four minutes. That process would have